Your pet dog is friendly and happy-go-lucky. Your dog likes everyone and has never shown any signs of aggression before. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, your dog bites you. Why? The most likely answer is that your dog has an illness or is otherwise in pain.
Reasons Dogs Bite
The American Veterinary Medical Association states that these are the typical reasons dogs bite people:
- Because they are startled;
- When playing;
- Lack of socialization;
- Lack of training;
- When someone trespasses.
Some of these are instances in which we are not surprised that our dog has bitten because the behavior is considered normal. If an intruder enters a home or property, we are not really shocked if our dog attacks them, and in many cases, dog owners encourage this behavior from their canine.
When you are playing with a dog, many will bite playfully. There isn’t intended harm in this bite. It is simply the style of play for these animals. They don’t have opposable thumbs, so they can’t grab you with their paws as you might grab them with your hands while roughhousing, so they use their mouths. Occasionally, a dog may get a bit carried away and bite too hard, but it is not done with malice.
You might also have received a quick bite from your dog once or twice if you surprised it or just got back from the vet with it. These are both situations where we understand our dogs’ aggression. In one, it is a survival instinct. The surprise represents a potential threat, so the bite is a defense mechanism. After coming back from the vet, your dog is often very agitated and lashes out as a result.
When your dog bites because of sickness or pain, though, it often comes as a complete surprise. Owners may notice other signs that their pet is behaving oddly before getting bit. However, this also may be their first indication that something is wrong. If you have a normally docile dog and you go to pet it and are suddenly bitten, there is a very strong chance that this is the reason why.
What Should You Do?
When bitten unexpectedly, monitor your pet closely for other signs of sickness or pain. Should your dog return to normal behavior after the incident, then it was probably just some weird fluke thing. Maybe you had been involved in some activity with a highly odorous substance, and you didn’t smell like you.
More likely than not, though, your dog will display other signs that something is bothering it, and you will probably want to take it to the vet to see if they can diagnose the problem and get your dog healthy again.
What’s in a Breed?
There is a common misconception that many people share that some breeds of dogs are ‘good’ and others are ‘bad’. Generally speaking, however, you are just as likely to get bitten by a golden retriever, as you are a pit bull. Pit bulls have a bad reputation, but it is not warranted.
The reason that many pit bulls display aggressive behavior, while many golden retrievers seem quite docile, is because of their upbringing. Many owners of pit bulls get them to be fighting dogs. Some put them in actual dog fights, while others train them as guard or attack dogs. They are often abused and neglected, and as a result of all of that, many pit bulls are quite aggressive.
Golden retrievers, on the other hand, are often raised as family dogs. They are showered with love and affection, and as a result, they return that love and affection to those around them. A golden retriever and a pit bull raised under the same conditions are likely to have very similar dispositions.
People who make judgments on how a dog is likely to behave based on the breed are very likely going to be mistaken. This can put them in a particularly perilous position when they assume that they will be safe around a dog as long as it’s a breed that they consider to be ‘good’. Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a dog by its breed.